Category — Producing
600 Highwaymen Find Actors in Unconventional Places
Welcome to Borough Play, our exclusive series on theatre in Brooklyn, Queens, and beyond
When they’re looking for actors, Abigail Browde and Michael Silverstone, the couple and co-artistic directors behind the Brooklyn-based theatre company 600 Highwaymen, travel far beyond a typical audition room. They see potential actors everywhere.
For four years, the duo has blended amateurs with professional actors to perform in such formally inventive shows as This Time Tomorrow, which unfolded in a church basement and relied on improvisation and charades; Empire City, a piece based on a recorded interview between an aging couple in which actors traded characters; and This Great Country, an adaptation of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman which took place in a 4,000 square foot bingo parlor.
For Everyone Was Chanting Your Name, which runs at Abrons Arts Center May 9-19, Browde and Silverstone have assembled a cast of eight people spanning six decades.
Asked how his company finds its actors, Silverstone says, “We approach people on the street, ask for recommendations from friends, and use Craigslist. We’ve cast former co-workers from day jobs. We’re using the community to cast, but our process isn’t exactly democratic or therapeutic.”
May 9, 2013 No Comments
Inside Richard Greenberg’s 10th visit to the same theatre
By now, it’s hard to imagine Manhattan Theatre Club without playwright Richard Greenberg. After all, his Tony-nominated drama The Assembled Parties, now on Broadway at the Samuel J. Friedman, marks his 10th collaboration with the company, following earlier productions like Three Days of Rain, The American Plan, and Eastern Standard.
“It’s been something like a quarter century now. It’s home,” Greenberg says.
The Assembled Parties began as a commission from MTC, and that assignment was prompted by the playwright’s rapport with artistic director Lynne Meadow. “After all these years, suddenly they called me and we had a meeting,” Greenberg says. “I made them come to my diner. That was a power trip!”
May 7, 2013 No Comments
Ayub Khan Din’s strange journey with his new musical at The New Group
It sounds like something out of an old Hollywood screwball comedy: A madcap new musical is about to bow on the boards, but after just a few preview performances, the lead injures himself and is forced to quit. The creative team frantically convenes. They have two choices: Cancel the show, or get the writer to go on.
That’s exactly what happened last month when doctors ordered actor Erick Avari to withdraw from the New Group’s Bunty Berman Presents. Left with no other options, book writer/lyricist/co-composer Ayub Khan Din stepped into the title role.
Unlike most playwrights, however, Din is no stranger to acting. Best known for his autobiographical dramedy East is East, about culture clashes within a Pakistani-British family, Din first came to prominence as a performer. After studying drama at the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, he starred in the controversial 1987 indie Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, as well as a number of British television series. But he traded acting for writing in the late ’90s and hasn’t appeared on stage in more than two decades.
May 2, 2013 No Comments
Tina Packer navigates “Women of Will”
Shakespeare’s had a grip on Tina Packer for her entire career. Decades ago, when she auditioned for England’s Royal Shakespeare Company, she used one of Queen Margaret’s speeches from Henry IV, Part III. Now she’s performing that speech again in Women of Will, her comprehensive look at the women in Shakespeare’s canon.
“I love doing [that speech] because of the range of emotion,” explains the 74-year-old actress/playwright/director/Shakespeare scholar. “Even though she’s taunting [the Duke of York] and being vicious, the truth of it is [that] that man should have been her husband, and she knows it.”
Women of Will, which plays through May 26 at the Gym at Judson, is equal parts lecture, Shakespeare revue, and master class. There are two version of the show: a two and a half-hour “overview” and an eight-hour, five-part marathon. During the overview, Packer plays 10 women, and on alternate weekends, she undertakes the marathon, playing 25 women and four men.
April 30, 2013 No Comments
How history changed the current revival of “The Big Knife”
Period plays and their dated references can be daunting not just for audiences, but for the actors. That’s where the director and the director’s assistant come in.
Alexander Greenfield has assisted director Doug Hughes on a number of plays that were written as contemporary pieces at the time, but have been revived on a Broadway far removed from their original period. Among them is the first-ever revival of Clifford Odets’ 1949 The Big Knife, a warts-and-all look at the film industry that came along a year before the film Sunset Boulevard.
The Big Knife focuses on movie star Charlie Castle (Bobby Cannavale), whose contract with his studio is up and who’s being pressured by means both subtle and blunt to sign a new, 14-year deal.
April 23, 2013 1 Comment